Hallo MinE Fans!
Today we witnessed the first legal motor race in Switzerland since 1954, and I am certain the event did not disappoint the Swiss fans.
The race began in a calm and composed manner with the entire grid being well behaved during the first half of the opening lap. That did not set a precedent for what was to come. Midway through that first lap, Daniel Abt clipped a curb, got slightly airborne, lost traction, and Nelson Piquet smashed into the back of him. This caused damage to both cars and the pair of them would receive the “meatball” (mechanical problem) flag, resulting in an early pit stop.
Meanwhile, Lucas di Grassi and Sebastien Buemi both got past Jerome d’Ambrosio for 4th & 5th, but the real story was Jean-Eric Vergne who was storming through the field. Benefiting from the aforementioned pit stops for Abt & Piquet, as well as a retirement for Edoardo Mortara, was really helpful for the Frenchman. However, he was also pushing hard and made clean overtakes on Alex Lynn and Nick Heidfeld to move into 10th. What was amazing is that despite his passes, he had more energy than anyone else, whilst also having fastest lap too! At the front, Mitch Evans was maintaining the lead from Andre Lotterer, Sam Bird and di Grassi.
Lucas di Grassi was then the man on the move, with solid passes on Bird and Lotterer to move into 2nd place. Sam Bird would then lose another spot to Buemi; the British driver was heading in the wrong direction to help his title bid. This was compounded by Vergne continuing to fly up the order. A robust move on Felix Rosenqvist (putting him in the wall in the process!), along with moves on Nico Prost and Jerome d’Ambrosio saw the champion-elect move into 7th place.
ABB Formula E is often criticised for the street/temporary circuits being a deterrent to passing; this wasn’t the case today at all. Oh, and just before the pit stop phase, di Grassi was able to pass Mitch Evans for the lead! It was easy pass with the Jaguar having to save energy.
Vergne’s incredible progress up the field was then hampered due to an extremely slow stop where his Techeetah machine just wouldn’t pull away from the pit box. He eventually got out on track but was down to 9th position. Bird was in 5th.
In a bizarre twist, 25% of the field were then given drive through penalties! Crucially for the championship; Vergne had a penalty, Bird did not. The other drivers to suffer a penalty were Evans, Lotterer, Buemi and Jose Maria Lopez.
Once all penalties were complete; Bird was suddenly in 2nd place, with Vergne down in 12th. That position became 11th with an overtake on Maro Engel, and 10th due to Lopez hitting the wall and losing time.
di Grassi would come home to take his first victory of the season ahead of Sam Bird and a surprise podium for Jerome d’Ambrosio in 3rd. Meanwhile, Vergne took home one point for 10th. Amusingly, towards the end of the race, Andre Lotterer set the fastest lap; taking a point away from his team mate in the the process!
The gap between Bird and Vergne before the event was 40 points, that’s now just 23 points. ABB Formula E has just two races to go, both in New York. That’s a city where Sam Bird dominated last season with two victories. It’s all set-up perfectly for a nail biting finish to season four.
Who do you think will take the title? You’ll find out with the MinE’s!